The Great East Japan (Tōhoku/Kanto) earthquake of March 2011was followed by a major tsunami and nuclear incident. Several previous studies have suggested a number of psychological responses to such disasters. However, few previous studies have modelled individual differences in the risk perceptions of major events, or the implications of these perceptions for relevant behaviours. We conducted a survey specifically examining responses to the Great Japan earthquake and nuclear incident, with data collected 11-13 weeks following these events. 844 young respondents completed a questionnaire in three regions of Japan; Miyagi (close to the earthquake and leaking nuclear plants), Tokyo/Chiba (approximately 220 km from the nuclear plants), and Western Japan (Yamaguchi and Nagasaki, some 1000 km from the plants). Results indicated significant regional differences in risk perception, with greater concern over earthquake risks in Tokyo than in Miyagi or Western Japan. Structural equation analyses showed that shared normative concerns about earthquake and nuclear risks, conservation values, lack of trust in governmental advice about the nuclear hazard, and poor personal control over the nuclear incident were positively correlated with perceived earthquake and nuclear risks. These risk perceptions further predicted specific outcomes (e.g. modifying homes, avoiding going outside, contemplating leaving Japan). The strength and significance of these pathways varied by region. Mental health and practical implications of these findings are discussed in the light of the continuing uncertainties in Japan following the March 2011 events. © 2012 Goodwin et al.
Goodwin, R., Takahashi, M., Sun, S., & Gaines, S. O. (2012). Modelling psychological responses to the great east Japan earthquake and nuclear incident. PLoS ONE, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037690